Aniana del Mar Jumps In

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A powerful and expertly told novel-in-verse by about a 12-year-old Dominican American swimmer who is diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis by an award-winning poet.

Aniana del Mar belongs in the water like a dolphin belongs to the sea. But she and Papi keep her swim practices and meets hidden from Mami, who has never recovered from losing someone she loves to the water years ago. That is, until the day Ani’s stiffness and swollen joints mean she can no longer get out of bed, and Ani is forced to reveal just how important swimming is to her. Mami forbids her from returning to the water but Ani and her doctor believe that swimming along with medication will help Ani manage her disease. What follows is the journey of a girl who must grieve who she once was in order to rise like the tide and become the young woman she is meant to be. Aniana Del Mar Jumps In is a poignant story about chronic illness and disability, the secrets between mothers and daughters, the harm we do to the ones we love the most—and all the triumphs, big and small, that keep us afloat.


KJasminne Mendez is a best-selling Dominican-American poet, educator, translator, playwright and award winning author of several books for children and adults. She has had poetry and essays published in numerous journals and anthologies and she is the author of two multi-genre collections including Island of Dreams (Floricanto Press, 2013) which won an International Latino Book Award. Her debut poetry collection City Without Altar was a finalist for the Noemi Press poetry prize and was released in August 2022(Noemi Press) and her debut picture book Josefina’s Habichuelas (Arte Publico Press, 2021) was the Writer’s League of Texas Children’s Book Discovery Prize Winner. She has translated the work of NYT Best Selling authors Amanda Gorman, Nikole Hannah-Jones, René Watson and Calribel Ortega. She is an MFA graduate of the creative writing program at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and a University of Houston alumni. She is the Program Director for the literary arts non-profit Tintero Projects and she lives and works in Houston, TX.

★ “Ani’s aching, determined verse narration weaves English and Spanish words into striking imagery as she navigates tumultuous emotions and her loving but stifling relationship with Mami. Mendez, also disabled and Dominican American, explores post-traumatic stress and its effects with both compassion and honesty, respecting Mami’s trauma without diminishing the pain her overprotectiveness causes Ani. Religious belief is similarly represented with nuance. . . . A painful yet hopeful exploration of family, trauma, faith, and healing.”—Kirkus Reviewsstarred review
★ “Via myriad poetic forms and sensorial verse, Mendez viscerally details the emotional family tumult of grief, mistrust, and resentment alongside Ani’s heartfelt quest to reunite with water.”—Publishers Weeklystarred review
★ “The nuanced depiction of disability, intergenerational conflict, and family trauma make this a must-have for all middle grade shelves.”—School Library Journalstarred review
★ “Mendez’s novel beautifully crafts a first-person narrative with concrete poetry, forming shapes of teardrops, sea creatures, and storms to capture the physical and emotional journey of Aniana’s desire to return to the water and navigate her newly diagnosed disability. Stanzas with English and Spanish dialogue, repetition, and spacing visually add to the tension and distance Aniana experiences with her family and friends.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Booksstarred review


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